Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#SAGApupVolt Is One Year Old Today!

Volt has been back at SA Guide-dogs for a little over a week already so there won't be any peanut butter cupcakes for my boy today.
I still can't get over how quickly you went from this:
To this!
Happy happy birthday my sweet Voltinator! I know you'll be working hard and they won't be making any fuss, but I will be thinking about you all day long!
His trainer sent us a little update on how he's doing last Friday, which I thought it was very kind of her to have emailed us some news already!
The first week of training is always a big adjustment for the dogs as they bond with their trainers and get used to a whole new routine.
He's sharing a kennel with Bentley and he's settling in well.
His trainer says he is a sweetheart indeed and that he is very energetic and easily distracted, LOL!
He's obviously got a long way to go in his training still.
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

#RiddickPup Is Thirty Weeks Old

He weighed 26.8kg on the vet's scale today, so he's up 200g from last week. I'm glad he's gaining weight again but he's obviously going to be smaller than our Volt- he's a full 4kg lighter than Volt was at the same age!
His first week without his "big brother" Volt has been okay, he's a little bored without Volt to wrestle his excess energy off with, but otherwise it was fine. We play fetch a couple of times a day and we have an obedience session (or two if I can fit them in) to practice "sit" and "down". And he's learning "shake" too!
Unfortunately for me, he's right back to waking up at 5am again! Every day! I know it would be a different story if he was sleeping in a crate and couldn't come and wake me up when HE wants to, but we decided when we adopted him that we wanted him to sleep in our bedroom and be a guard-dog so we didn't do crate training.
I've noticed lately that Riddick reacts very strongly to dogs and dog sounds on TV or on my laptop!
He's enjoying his walks more and more too. He's still stopping and starting whenever an interesting smell catches his attention, or crossing in front of me to follow his nose, but he doesn't pull me off my feet and he's not flinching at passing cars or barking dogs at all.
asleep on mommy's bed
I made a little video too! He is just so cute!

Riddick found an old fluffy slipper of mine under my bed and I let him keep it. I had to toss it a mere three days later but he enjoyed the HELL out of it while it lasted. I was throwing it for him and he was sleeping with it and everything.
He's doing better and better in the car too. If he is benched to the door handle on the backseat he is a lot quieter than when he's not benched. He HATES the sound of the hooter and gets very vocal and upset if I hoot at anything. While I'm driving, he sits down when I start to brake for a traffic light or stop street and stands up again when I pull away. I had a good giggle on Saturday when I looked over my shoulder and saw he was sitting on the armrest in the backseat!
And then this week I submitted another picture to dog shaming* (a different one to the picture below). Riddick got hold of my husband's new Samsung Galaxy Ace without us noticing and when we realised he was chewing something he had managed to get the back cover off and chew dents in it! Luckily it can still be attached to the phone, but its all wonky now. Thank goodness there was no other damage to the phone.
*Riddick has been on dog shaming before!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Aaaand Louise Has Now Had Kennel Cough Too!

So all the dogs have had it now.
Louise's cough was a dreadful wheeze and I was more than a little worried about her, but she never lost her appetite and with cough mixture twice a day she was fine in less than a week.
All three of them will get the kennel cough vaccine in a week or so, as soon as I am sure all three are completely over it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thelma Had Kennel Cough Too

I knew it was inevitable after Volt had it and then Riddick caught it briefly that one or both of the girls would get it too.
Thelma was coughing a lot and I felt very sorry for her, but I dosed her twice a day with the cough mixture (Benylin with codeine) that I had left over from Riddick and Volt's stints with the bug and by Sunday she had stopped coughing already!
I'm now waiting on tenterhooks to see if Louise will get it too...
The nature of kennel cough means that it depends on a dog's constitution and immune system, but there is also an inoculation against kennel cough that you can have done every six months.
And its a good idea, especially if your dogs are socially "active", spending time in dog parks and traveling with you, to have the kennel cough inoculation done regularly. Its a spray into the dogs nose so it doesn't even hurt!
I'm thrilled that Thelma got better so quickly!

#RiddickPup Is Twenty Nine Weeks Old

It seems I spoke too soon, Riddick has been waking me at 5h15 all week! My one week of sleeping till 6h00 was bliss, but it seems it was an anomaly.

snoozing and watching me work

He's been "alone" at home, without Volt, since Friday morning. He's definitely fidgety and bored, but he's not  unmanageable and he's not pining at all. I have increased our ball play sessions and the length of our walk so I can burn off some of his excess energy.
He weighed a healthy 26.6kg on the vet's scale this morning, but thats a little bit down on last week. I increased his two daily meals to 200g per meal a week ago since he is still growing, but if he starts looking tubby I'll reduce it again.
Our walks are going well. He's not as responsive on lead as I would like him to be, but the lessons I learned from Volt have made my life far easier and he doesn't pull me all over the place!
He's learning to "shake" as well which is very cute! He doesn't always lift his paw but he's getting it.
I am also teaching him, with cookie treats, to be okay with having something on his head- like a cap or a new pair of Doggles.
On Saturday afternoon Jo'burg was hit by an incredible hailstorm! We didn't have hailstones as big as they were in some areas but I was worried at one point that we were going to lose a window or two! Thankfully that was not the case, and my gentle conditioning with Riddick has worked a treat in that he no longer barks at the noise made by a storm like this one was. When we went out a little later after the storm, Riddick went barreling out the door when I said "okay" and stopped dead in the middle of the lawn!
hailstones banked up against my garage doors
The hail had banked up against the garden wall and Riddick was not at all sure what the white stuff was. He barked at it until I went to the ice and stomped on it and called him over calmly. Once he realised it was ice he had a ball! He loves ice cubes and he was digging and chomping the hailstones and running up and down the garden! It was very funny!
I took his stitches out on Saturday morning as well. He's been very good about not licking or chewing on them and it looks like its healed nicely.
 Riddick loves the balcony outside my bedroom!
using daddy's leg as a pillow 
his favourite chew toy 

Will We Do It Again?

Will we be raising another guide-dog puppy?
My husband and I discussed it all through our 10 months of puppy-walking Volt, and yes, we will do it again.
When we first started speaking about it, when Volt was still a little puppy, we decided we would take a few months off before walking another guide-dog puppy as it is a very intense and time consuming process.
And then- five months ago- we adopted our Riddick from SAGA.
That meant we had two Labrador puppies in our house, but Riddick benefited from it immensely as he learnt a lot from Volt on how to behave (dogs do well with good role models) and he had Volt to play and snuggle with. Volt didn't have the same as our two older dogs, Thelma and Louise, are very set in their ways and don't like having to deal with puppies! They're not mean or aggressive, but they don't play and they don't snuggle- not even with each other.
Our Volt has now gone back to SAGA for his formal training, and whilst most puppy-walkers take a new pup as soon as they are told their year-old dog will be going back to SAGA, we have Riddick so we still have a puppy in the house.
On the way back from dropping Volt off at kennels, we discussed getting a new puppy again. We have already told SAGA that we would like to take a new pup when our Riddick is a year old next April, but that also means it will be around the time Volt completes his training.
That led our train of thought along these lines:
  • Volt will have a couple of training "holidays" and he can come "home" for them
  • With Riddick already here, having Volt visit will make it a house full
  • Having a new guide-dog pup, Riddick AND Volt visiting will be a lot to manage
  • Should Volt not make the programme- touch wood- we will have "first dibs" on him coming back to us as a pet
  • Should Volt come to us as a pet, having a new puppy will be tricky as our house isn't big enough for five dogs
  • Waiting until our guide-dog puppy graduates will give us a good break between dogs
And of course not having a puppy doesn't mean we won't be involved with volunteering for SAGA events!
So yes. We will be getting a new puppy as soon as Volt graduates. And we will continue to follow that pattern in the future.

click on the puppy to make a donation to SAGA
Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!
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Friday, October 19, 2012

My #SAGApupVolt Goes Into Training Today

Today is Volt's "intake day".
This morning I took off his blue all-the-time collar with his name tag on it because when I dropped him off he was wearing his working collar and lead, which belongs to SAGA. We took him back to SA Guide-dogs and on Monday he will begin his formal guide-dog training. He is in a group of five dogs and will be training with Qedo, Ruby, Titan and his sister Vegas.
It was very undramatic as they try not to make a fuss of the dogs arrival as they pick up on their people's emotions. And of course we have dropped him at kennels for several week-long stays whilst we were raising him so this wasn't a completely strange experience.
I have so very many thoughts going through my head! Have I done enough? Did I do it right? Is he going to miss me? Is he going to do well? I am so proud of my boy going into training, and yet I am heart sore that I won't see him every day anymore. A tiny part of me almost- almost- wishes he doesn't make it and he can come back home to us forever, but the biggest part of me wants to see him graduate next year with his blind partner and start doing the work he was born for.
I will miss him pushing himself between me and my laptop so he can rest his head on my arms or my lap whilst his tail wags furiously.
I will miss his tail bumping the back of my knees as he wags it during our walks.
I will miss him going upstairs to wake my husband by pulling the duvet off him.
I will miss him "smiling" at me with a yawn and a stretch when I let him out of his crate in the mornings.
We will see him whilst he's on training, the pups have a couple of holidays and he may be able to come and stay with us over Christmas when his trainer goes on holiday, but we won't see him for a few weeks while he gets used to being at kennels full time and bonds with his trainer.
this sequence shows Volt doing a "down stay" (albeit a little untidy) and demonstrating how he ignores Riddick and ball play 
Riddick and Volt competing to see who can bring me the ball...
Riddick and Volt waiting for me to throw the ball... 

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Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!
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Monday, October 15, 2012

#RiddickPup Is Twenty Eight Weeks Old

Last Monday afternoon I dropped him off at SAGA's kennels so they could make sure he didn't eat or drink anything before his castration surgery on the Tuesday, and he was stoked to find he was sharing a kennel with Zanzi and Zilla- both girls in to be spayed!
Riddick is standing between the two girls
He was having a whale of a time when I left, but apparently when he was driven to the vet (and back to SAGA after his op) the next day he howled non-stop, there and back again! When I arrived to fetch him on the Wednesday he was very happy to see me, and I was told by our SAGA PDS that I had to make sure he didn't get too wet (not a problem as he doesn't like water  as much as Volt does) and that he and Volt had to chill on the roughhousing... I thought I could keep them "calm" for a few days.
I was wrong.
On Wednesday night we had to drive back to BVH to get his cut re-stitched. The vet said he didn't even seem to notice the needle as she stitched him up again with a little local anesthetic, and she gave him an antibiotic shot just in case, with more tablets for the next few days. AND he came out of the vet's office with a Cone Of Shame!!
It was very funny to watch him because every time he bumped into something he thought he was being held and would stand and wait till he got freed, but hells bells! Those things should come with a warning for the humans in the house! And even with the cone he still managed to get dirty!
Because Riddick follows me around so closely he spent the next few days bumping into the back of my legs with the edge of the cone! I am amazed my legs aren't striped black and blue! By Friday afternoon I had had enough of the blasted thing and I took it off him. I've had to stop him licking himself in his sleep a couple of times and I am stopping any hectic rough play between him and Volt, but so far so good.
he puts his front feet and head on the bed, his "lift me I'm too little to jump" pose
This morning the vet's scale clocked him at 26.9kg so he's gained 500g since last week! I look at photos of him as a tiny baby and I can hardly believe he was ever so small!
asleep on my bed
asleep on the floor in my room
Unfortunately Riddick caught Volt's kennel cough. His cough was different to Volt's in that it didn't sound like a cough so much as it sounded like he was throwing up, buy he's already much better with cough mixture and the antibiotics the vet put him on when she re-stitched him. And taking a tip from SAGA, I discovered it is FAR easier to give the puppies their meds by putting the pills in my hand with a few of their pellets as a treat and they gobble everything up without batting an eyelid!
I found a rubber ball this week that has a bell in it! That means that even if he's not looking when I throw it he can hear when it lands! He loves it!
And! AND! He is finally - touch wood - sleeping till 6am! Its glorious!

#SAGApupVolt Is Forty Nine Weeks Old

Volt's kennel cough seems to be all better! He's not coughing anymore but I am still giving him some vitamins to boost his immune system. Taking a tip from SAGA's methodology, I discovered it is FAR easier to give Volt his meds by putting the capsules in my hand with a few of his pellets as a treat, and he gobbles everything up without batting an eyelid!
On the vet's scale this morning he weighed 33.9kg so he's still holding steady.
We didn't do much walking or anything this week past as I didn't want to aggravate his cough- or spread it- and I had a lot of work to do.
And we have less than a week with him still living with us as he goes back to SAGA kennels for his formal training on Friday already!
click on the puppy to make a donation to SAGA
Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!
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#SAGApupVolt And #RiddickPup - Week Twenty One Together

My boys waiting patiently for me top open my bedroom door onto the balcony
waiting at the sliding door in the lounge


waiting for cookies!

Monday, October 8, 2012

#SAGApupVolt And #RiddickPup - Week Twenty Together

Dirty muddy puppies!

puppies checking out what daddy is up to in the pool... and then running off with the cover of the weir!

The puppies love the balcony outside my bedroom! Its a nice place for them to lie in the sun or play a little without getting up to mischief- like digging holes in the garden!

Riddick is really going to miss Volt when he leaves to go back to SAGA for his guide-dog training... I'll still be here at home with him all day, but I can't play with him the same way Volt does!

#RiddickPup Is Twenty Seven Weeks Old

Last Monday our "baby boy" was officially six months old!
On the vet's scale this morning he weighed 26.4kg (400g gained since last week), and he has now been eating 190g Nutriphase Puppy twice a day for a week. He still comes and asks me for his lunch every day though...
This coming Tuesday he is going to be castrated. I need to say a HUGE thank you to SAGA for their help here- I'll be dropping Riddick off at their kennels tomorrow afternoon and they will make sure he does the proper surgery "fast", they'll take him to the vet, they'll collect him for me (along with the other dogs being done as they always do a group booking), and then I can collect him from SAGA's kennels again on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The vet will take a look at the inside of Riddick's top lip for me but the wart that was there is already gone!
Last Wednesday I had to fly to PE for the day and I had to be at the airport at 6am already! When I switched on my bedside light at 5am Riddick wasn't even awake yet and when he realised I was up the look on his face was really comical! He stayed home with his "daddy" all day as we still have painters on the property.
When the painters started their work I warned them that the pups would make off with brushes or tools or anything they thought they could carry of the guys left it within reach but I tried to make sure I was outside with the pups at all times so I could keep an eye on them. Yesterday we found a trowel in the pool and Riddick grabbed it and tried to run off with it when my husband fished it out! The painters have finished their work thank goodness, so the pups can go and play outside a little more than they were able to the last couple of weeks.
We're still battling sporadically with the copraphagia unfortunately... If I am with him I watch him closely and tell him to "leave it" if there's anything I haven't scooped yet, but I am going to have to get more of the Copranat food spray before we get another guide-dog puppy in a few months.
Yesterday afternoon my husband was working on the pump and Kreepy Krawley and such, as the house repairs took quite a toll on our pool! When he turned the Kreepy back on and jumped back into the pool the lapping water and the Kreepy made a noise under the pool weir's round lid and Riddick was convinced there was something in there!

#SAGApupVolt Is Forty Eight Weeks Old

It finally came. I got the email from SAGA last week informing us that our Volt is to return for his formal training on Friday October 19th.
I knew it was coming, but I almost didn't want to finish reading it! He'll be in training with Quedo, Ruby, Titan, and Vegas (his sister) and his trainer will send us a monthly email to let us know how he's doing.
I won't be going anywhere near SAGA for at least a month once Volt goes back as he has to bond with his trainer, and just the sound of my voice or my car could upset the process.
We weighed in at the vet this morning and Volt is holding steady at 34kg.
Here he is, muddy and dirty after sticking his face and front paws in the pool and then running off to wrestle in the garden with Riddick! They were both filthy!
And our poor puppy has kennel cough! Its a contagious form of doggy bronchitis but unless it gets very bad its only treated symptomatically. We're keeping a close eye on him and he's feeling very sorry for himself but he should be fine in a few days. There's a strong possibility that Thelma, Louise and Riddick could catch it though. He's getting Benylin cough syrup with Codeine in to ease his cough and he's getting the occasional ice block to soothe his itchy throat. If he gets feverish (I don't have a thermometer, his ears get very hot) I can stand him in a little tepid water as dogs sweat through their feet and this can help bring his fever down.
As a result of his kennel cough we couldn't take him along with us to the SA Guide-dogs Annual Family Fun Day. It was fun but I would have loved to take our boy to show him off a little too! It was quite strange to be somewhere with so very many dogs and yet there was no noise! The puppy races were hysterical and the dress up competition was won by the cutest little thing from the 'E' litter!
Now that Riddick is old enough and big enough not to fit between the bars on the balcony outside my bedroom its become a nice "hang out" spot. Volt likes few things more than lying outside in the sunshine, and my balcony means he and Riddick can chill out in the sun- or play (its a big square balcony)- without getting up to mischief like they can when they're unsupervised in the garden!
Yesterday my hubby was doing some pool maintenance and Volt was fascinated! The Kreepy hasn't been working so the sudden noise and movement from the floating Kreepy pipe and the weir being cleaned out and bits of debris being scooped out of the pool was a veritable party! Volt loves sticking his nose in the water and sits on the edge of the pool with his toes in the water and sticks his nose under the water but he doesn't go into the water completely which shows his training has worked when it comes to the pool!

click on the puppy to make a donation to SAGA
Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!
Follow @SAGuide_Dogs on Twitter and on Facebook!